Most folk would assume that the national drink of Turkey would be coffee but they would be mistaken. Yes, Turkish coffee is absolutely delicious but actually the national drink of Turkey is tea!
Now, the tea of Turkey differs somewhat from the tea that many Brits and other countries would know and love. Turkish tea is served black and in special small tulip shaped glasses. Tea is called ‘Cay’ (pronounced Chai) and is a massive social culture and a sign of great hospitality.
The Turkish people will happily sit from sunrise to sunset drinking this Cay with their friends or simply alone. Every village and town have what is called a Cay Bahcesi or tea garden. People come here to discuss their lives or simply catch up with friends socially.
You will notice though, that these tea gardens normally don’t have many women inside. In Turkish culture these tea gardens are normally a more men orientated place and the men will sit playing board games or reading the newspaper for hours and sipping on tea.
When you walk through the streets anywhere in Turkey you will often see a young lad carrying around a large silver tray full of these little tulip shaped glasses full of steaming hot black tea. He is what you could call the delivery boy delivering tea to those working. When you enter many shops the shop keepers often offer Cay to the customers as a sign of friendship or hospitality.
Turkish tea is also made and brewed in a distinctive way.
To make it, you need a Cay danlik. This is basically a tea pot but in two separate sections. The lower section is the larger pot which houses the boiling water and the top pot which is slightly smaller contains the tealeaves and more hot water. When the tea is brewed half the little tulip glass is filled with the brewed tea from the top pot and then the boiling water from the lower pot fills the remainder of the glass.
Normally Turkish tea comes with two sugar cubes for those who wish to make their tea sweet. Turkish tea is not only a social culture and for showing good hospitality, it also has amazing health benefits too!